The trail to Gunsight Pass and Lamphier Lake (#428) follows an old trail/old roadbed that is a somewhat tedious hike. It is rock-strewn and loose., especially the first part. Hike up this roadbed all the way to Lamphier Lake, a beautiful reflective lake with a nice mountain backdrop. If using the USGS Fairview quad, the trail has been changed from the original plot on that map with some switchback sections being added. For this reason, we used the FS2016 map version for the map we provide. On our hike, we began encountering snow at about 11,000 ft., before reaching the scenic and photogenic Lamphier Lake. North of the lake is Gunsight Pass and a ridge extending west leading to the summit of Square Top Mountain. Sections of the ridge appeared rather rugged, so we decided to not hike to the pass and negotiate that ridge, but rather head to a less obstacle-ridden break in the ridge on the west end where it begins to ascend in earnest to the Square Top summit. This westward ascent line took us through a lot of soggy ground lower down as the day was warming up and spring melt was seriously proceeding. We passed some nice flowers amid the large boulders in the area and began the scramble up to the ridge. Though steep and of course, rocky in some places, we never encountered anything too difficult and arrived on the ridge and continued ascending toward the Square Top summit, now back on tundra. At least two hundred feet below that summit, contour on the north side of Square Top along a faint trail and avoid the elevation loss you would incur if you went all the way to the summit. This will lead over to the saddle south of your destination for the morning – Henry Mountain.
From the saddle, continue northwest toward the summit of Henry over a lot of tundra, pleasantly splashed with the early summer flowers like Forget-Me-Nots and Moss Campion. For us, the colors were vivid and profuse. The hiking is easy except for the final summit approach where things become rockier. Henry Mountain lies at the very center of the Fossil Ridge Wilderness, so it affords a nice view of most of that area. Though the forest below that we had hiked through earlier seemed to us rather “scraggly,” the region as a whole is a fairly gentle wilderness, and there were abundant signs of wildlife. We soaked in the magnificent view for nearly a half hour before departing after our obligatory summit shots.
For the return trip, you could return as you came, but here is an alternative that will allow more viewing of this wilderness and will avoid the hike along the rock-strewn old roadbed lower down from Lamphier Lake. From Henry Mountain, hike southeast and over the summit of Square Top Mountain and then further southeast to Fossil Mountain, neither of which are ranked summits. Staying up high for a while affords more views and perspective of the area. Cross the two summits as mentioned before and then follow the southeast ridge of Fossil Mountain in the direction of Sheep Mountain. There is a nice view of Boulder Lake and the impressive fossil ridge that surrounds much of the lake. It was somewhere around this stretch that we saw what we hoped to find, a nice group of elk in the distance. The bulk of this ridge hike is on tundra.
From the summit of Sheep Mountain, continue dropping more southeast, to intersect the Fossil Ridge Trail #478 and follow that back to the trailhead. We had to drop down some very steep, sparsely wooded slopes and eventually saw the trail below us as anticipated. Dropping on down, we picked up the trail and commenced the walk back along the well-maintained path to the campground and trailhead. This trail descends on numerous switchbacks through more scraggly, lodgepole forest.
Links to other information, routes & trip reports for this peak that may be helpful.